Corporate Event Planners Seek Flexible Event Space to Build Unique Experiences
Versatility. Flexibility. A blank canvas. Corporate event planners are creative and seek event spaces that can accommodate their visions.
Planners around the country identified key areas where flexibility is an integral feature of the venues they select.
“The more constraints a venue has the harder it is on planners to create the vision the client would like to have for their guests,” said Courtney Lutkus, owner of Simply Radiant Events.
Planners want space that offers the ability to customize the experience or brand the atmosphere to make it unique.
“Usually I am seeking to find a space that is the most versatile, fitting to our client’s general session/breakout needs and accommodating to the style of meeting,” explained Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP, president & chief event strategist for Red Velvet Events, a Global DMC Partner.
She continued, “We like to transform spaces, and look at the white space to figure out if are there creative ways to brand [it]—and will the venue allow it—to make that space the company’s vibe, because we don’t want to make it feel like another hotel ballroom meeting.”
Janine Low, principal/owner of Mad Hatter Marketing & Event Planning LLC also asks her venues if they offer flexibility with the layout of the space.
“I ask my venues things like, can the furniture be rearranged? Do the walls move? Is there a kitchen space that can be used? If not, will they allow outside food and beverage vendors? Are food trucks allowed on the premises? Will they allow me to use the in-house furniture for the event? Can I bring in outside props/furniture?,” she explained.
Emily Kratt, CIS, managing director at INNOVATX Events, noted a trend in un-conference style meetings and events that require space that feels relaxing and fosters creativity.
She added, “Finding these awesome spaces normally comes at a high price tag especially when you have to bring in rentals and lounge furniture. It can easily become very cost prohibitive to work with a blank canvas.”
The space must offer flexibility for clients’ needs, even when the requests are ‘outside of the box’.
“If our client wants acrobats to perform, we make sure that the venue has flexibility to accommodate our creativity,” said Nicole Harris, owner & founder, corporate event planner & designer at ONE LAST FROG.
Planners want to make sure that the venue has expert and accommodating event staff on hand to handle or prevent unforeseen circumstances and make the event run smoothly.
“When we scout venues, we look for an on-site coordinator who will be there on the event day to act as a captain of the venue and catering staff for a more seamless event,” said Harris.
The on-site staff need to be able to correct issues on the fly.
“By far the most valuable value-add of a venue is flexibility,” said Nate Martin, CEO of Puzzle Break.
He added, “All too often, my team arrives and something is not quite perfect in the space. The thing that makes certain venues rise above the rest is skilled on-site staff who can fix whatever needs fixing at the last minute.”
References can help planners know they are selecting a team that will perform.
“They can make things flow a lot more smoothly, especially if they are knowledgeable, efficient and easy to work with,” said Tyler Riddell, vice president of marketing for eSUB Construction Software. “Make sure to ask for references and see how other groups felt about the staff.”
Food and Beverage
The need for flexibility in food and beverage is based on both desired experience and budget.
“Having the flexibility to use in-house catering or bring in outside catering is often attractive to my clients,” said Sarah Sebastian, creative director at Rose Gold Creative.
“Some have very specific needs that are too elevated for in house catering programs. Having a great kitchen and option to allow a client to bring in their own chef or catering is a helpful win,” she explained.
Planners are split when it comes to budget. Some planners prefer that food is included in the venue pricing.
“When the venue pricing is based on price per head for the catering service, rather than paying a separate fee for the venue and hiring an outside catering company, it can split the cost in half,” said Harris.
Other planners seek venues that are open to outside food options.
“We also look for venues that allow you to bring in your own caterer - if it is just a casual lunch meeting [there is] no need for a $100 menu,” said Kratt.
Finding flexible and unique event spaces is an ongoing challenge for planners, but they continue to think outside of the box.
“I have trouble finding venues that offer this flexibility if they are hotels, which typically have more restrictions than other venues that are purely event spaces,” explained Harris. “Those have fewer restrictions regarding timing, vendors, animals and other miscellaneous requests.”
Co-working spaces are another flexible event space option for planners to consider.
“We’ve used a lot of co-working spaces for evening events,” said Kratt. “These co-working spaces/venues are popping up all over the country and offer a great solution for a good value.”
Lo added that there are often more options in urban centers.
Event spaces that are unique and flexible on many fronts allow planners to realize their organizations’ or clients’ visions. This need is likely to grow as brands seek creative experiences for their internal teams, clients and prospects and planners will continue to push venues to deliver.
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